A Penticton judge said she is “shocked” that nobody was killed during an instance of dangerous driving by a prolific offender that led to a serious crash near Osoyoos.
Jeff Donald James Pelly, 43, pleaded guilty to dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, failure to stop at an accident and willfully resisting or obstructing a police officer in relation to two separate instances that occurred less than a week apart from one another.
Pelly is a prolific offender who, in 2015, was arrested just 12 minutes after receiving bail. Pelly was arrested for sleeping in a stolen car, given bail and then re-arrested shortly after walking out of the courthouse when police watched him smash the window of a vehicle and steal a cash box out of it.
It was around noon on a busy Highway 3 on Aug. 15, 2018, that Pelly was seen travelling between Osoyoos and Bridesville driving erratically in a Nissan Pathfinder, swerving in and out of traffic and travelling on the shoulder.
One witness said his “heart sank” after coming around a bend and seeing a trail of dust. On the road were a jackknifed trailer and Ford truck turned over that Pelly had sideswiped.
While others that stopped helped the driver, who had blood coming from her head, and assisted the uninjured two children and a dog also in the vehicle. The witness carried on to try and find what he believed was an impaired driver.
He came upon the Pathfinder a short distance away, where several people identified Pelly as the driver who climbed out of the destroyed truck and fled the scene into the nearby woods.
RCMP, with support from a police dog and airplane, could not locate Pelly. However, with several witnesses and a photo that was taken of Pelly as he ditched the Pathfinder, RCMP began asking his known associates of his whereabouts. They learned that Pelly had been seen driving a white Toyota Tacoma with a silver canopy.
Six days later, on Aug. 21, Cpl. Jason Goodfellow located the vehicle, which had been reported stolen. He followed as it hit speeds of up to 100 kilometres per hour through 40-kilometre zones.
Goodfellow eventually lost the vehicle but followed a dust trail down a dead end street and came across it travelling directly at him. He said the driver panicked and put the vehicle in reverse, running over fences and into some grass. Goodfellow got bumper to bumper with Pelly eventually bringing the two vehicles to a stop.
Despite being told he was under arrest Pelly jumped out of the vehicle fleeing the scene on foot. Goodfellow, with the assistance of police dog Harrow, gave chase and after an extensive search, they could not track him. RCMP said they found less than a gram of methamphetamine and marijuana in the vehicle.
Pelly was eventually arrested on two separate warrants in September 2018.
Defence counsel James Pennington said Pelly suffered brain injuries when he was younger and had worked in the logging industry for almost 20 years before his life started to spiral. He was under duress from getting a divorce and began abusing methamphetamine.
Pelly, who is also facing several charges out of a Merritt incident including theft of a motor vehicle, break and enter, flight from a police officer, received two six month sentences that will run concurrently for the Oliver and Bridesville offences. He was given 400 days of enhanced credit, 180 days applied to each file, leaving with him with some days leftover. Pelly will remain behind bars while he awaits sentencing on the Merritt matter, which will be dealt with in Kamloops.
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